The track up the middle of O’Donohues, which was part of an autumn burn, proved to be quite spectacular.
Our first sighting was an uncommon plant which usually only grows after fire Kopata Pelargonium inodorum. This looks extremely similar to the common and more robust Austral Stork’s-bill P. australe, with clusters of pink flowers with red marking, but has smaller leaves.
We saw a range of small plants as we slowly climbed up the hill, for example Bent Goodenia Goodenia geniculata, with its irregular five-petalled yellow flowers, and the white clustered flowers of Common Rice-flower Pimelia humilis. Also Milkmaids Burchardia umbellata, with attractive clusters of white sweetly scented-flowers, many with the pink three-chambered capsules developing. Bluebells, mostly the Tall Wahlenbergia Wahlenbergia Stricta subsp. stricta, were swaying on their slender stems.
We only saw three orchids, but they were all healthy specimens of the Mantis Orchid Caladenia tentaculata.
Then suddenly we were confronted with a stunning display of tall Grasstrees Xanthorrhoea spikes covered in creamy-white flowers, some spikes being twisted and contorted into amazing shapes.
Scores of bees were buzzing around them, also a gorgeous moth and a Red Wattlebird, all enjoying the bounty.
Moth on Grasstree
We were reluctant to move on, but further on there was a small bush of the rare Grey Everlasting Ozothamnusobcordatus, growing almost over the pathway. The clusters of bright-yellow flowers stood out amongst the small green leaves. The undersurfaces were pale grey-green, which explained the name.
We should have gone a bit further as the next day I saw several areas scattered with the glorious cornflower-blue domed heads of Blue Pincushion Brunonia australis. The pincushion effect is made by the protruding pale or yellow styles.
On our return down the track beside the houses there were areas of the prostate white flowers of Small-fruit Fan-flower Scaevola albida. There was great excitement over a rare plant, which most of us had never seen, Tangled Bedstraw Galium australe. It was almost hidden in the undergrowth and, in truth, is a most uninteresting looking plant with small clusters of tiny cream flowers. The oblong leaves grow in a ring of four around the hairy scrambling stems…so easy to miss, and hard to photograph.
A nice finish was the sight of a couple of small specimens of the ever delightful Dwarf Wedge-pea, or Red-riding-hood Pea Gompholobium ecostatum.